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Born September 7, 1936

Reverse Cool
Perfect Sound Forever, October 2006

LONG BEFORE "POST-MODERN" became pure jargon, Buddy Holly put quotes around his "normalcy" to disarm rock machismo. Holly, the "King of the Sixth Grade," hiccupped his hormones out loud, flipping everybody's high school jitters into metaphor. His futuristic Stratocaster guitar gave his horn-rimmed glasses sudden but certain panache, and in a style crowded with "hipsters," "Marlon Brando with a guitar" as Jackie Gleason dismissed Elvis Presley, Holly pushed "normal" to extremes. On his records, everyday stuff turned radical. In musical terms, squeezing the eccentric from the banal meant deconstructing all the elements of song as recording, from verse-refrain-bridge constructions to bending analog tape to do your song's will. This persona, the ordinary as cosmic, consumes the Complete Buddy Holly, last year's underground epic, a 10-CD remaster of everything Holly touched. This grand, sprawling patchwork weaves early 1953 appearances on KDAV with Jack Neal as "Buddy and Jack" with radio spots, alternate takes, even phone messages to reluctant executives. His chart action wedges a creative infinity into two years, from 1957 up to his plane crash on February 3, 1959.

It opens with a 1949 home recording of Hank Snow's "My Two-Timin' Woman," before Buddy's voice has changed (with a respectable guitar solo), and closes six CDs later with Holly's solo acoustic "Apartment Demos," which include the bizarrely slow takes of "Slippin' and Slidin'," sped up for Chipmunks effect. The final four volumes (7-10) are devoted to stereo and mono remasters, the mid-'60s string overdubs, Holly's guitar sessions, radio feeds, and singles by others Holly treasured enough to arrange for himself. On disc four, during several outtakes of Bo Diddley's "Mona," Holly sounds like Pete Townshend warming up for "Pinball Wizard." It's a set to get lost in. Now the Chick has assembled a companion Complete Buddy Holly DVD, which compiles all extant performance and tour footage into a montage of Holly's infinitely brief career.

Together, the CD box and 30-minute DVD comprise the most comprehensive picture of Holly ever published. Like fellow Texan Roy Orbison, who had also worked with producer Norman Petty, Holly personified rock's transformative power, and his influence reached far beyond his hiccups, songwriting, virile guitar work, stiff but arresting stage presence, and deceptively simple recordings. His guileless smile still contains multitudes. 

Holly first embraced of rock'n'roll as a natural outgrowth of country-and-western. Like a lot of other kids in Elvis Presley's audience, he understood that the genius of the new Teen Jesus from Memphis was sui generis by definition. Metaphorically, this meant accentuating your strangeness was a game anybody could play—even, or perhaps especially, if you were the squarest looking guy in the class. Holly's success spoke for all the like-minded classmates who thrilled to Presley's singing and rebellion but found his sexual bravado out of reach. Here was the easy-to-overlook kid, the Class Generic, who stole the talent show by unleashing rabid, lascivious rockabilly on his unsuspecting classmates. To Holly's ear, this raucous style shot straight out of the perfectly respectable country-and-western he grew up on and its wayward cousin, honky-tonk. Everything on the West Texas airwaves told him he was right: on Lubbock's KDAV playlist, DJ "Hipockets" Duncan played Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins next to Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell...

continue reading Reverse Cool here
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love," Joni Mitchell at the Newport Folk Festival
June 24, 2022
items of interest 

‘Revolver’ Confirmed as Next Beatles Album to Get Deluxe Treatment and Remix
Between Legacy and History: Peele's Nope, by Jason Read (in "unemployed negativity" blog)
Joni Mitchell at Newport, complete playlist

tools of note  
readwise: almost a profession
alfred, or the new raycast: never leave your keyboard bypass any paywall using<URL>

Nichols and May
Carrie Courigan, at work on her Elaine May biography, drops a mother lode of outtakes from Examine Doctors (1962) and previously unreleased radio bits. A pipeline to my comedy subconscious. 

Playing With Fire, Elizabeth Wilson
A Rock Critic's Guide to Classical Music
Booked on Rock podcast: history, authorship, and the deluge

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